Cyberpunk Idol

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Cyberpunk is the fifth studio album by English rock vocalist Billy Idol. A concept album, it was released in 1993 by Chrysalis Records. Inspired by his personal interest in technology and his first attempts to use computers in the creation of his music, Idol based the album on the cyberdelic subculture of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Heavily experimental in its style, the album was an attempt by Idol to take control of the creative process in the production of his albums, while simultaneously introducing Idol’s fans and other musicians to the opportunities presented by digital media.

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Cyberpunk Idol

During the release of 1990’s Charmed Life, Idol suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle accident. While in recovery, he was interviewed by Legs McNeil. McNeil noticed the electronic muscle stimulator on Idol’s leg and referred to him as a “cyberpunk”, citing the cyborg qualities of his appearance. This led to Idol taking a serious interest in the works of William Gibson for the first time, although he had read Neuromancer in the mid-’80s.In the following months, Idol continued to investigate cyberpunk fiction and technology.He also read Neal Stephenson‘s Snow Crash, works by Robert Anton Wilson, and others.

However, he rejected the idea of referring to the music as “computerized”, on the grounds that nothing was done for the album that couldn’t have been done with standard recording equipment, and that the computer had simply sped up and simplified the creative process. Placing emphasis on the contribution of the performers over the computer tools they used, Idol felt the album achieved a “garage band” spirit, that had captured the “Sturm und Drang” he found in rock and roll, and had simply modified it digitally. Idol thus felt that the album could be best identified as a rock album, rather than a techno album.

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